Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good news and bad (Llama)

Life of Llama Update...

As you know, my contract here at TASC is nearing an end. Originally it was set to expire in October, but the guys here agreed to extend it till December (for tax purposes). In the mean time I have begun my job search, sent out a couple of resumes, got some useless offers from Monster, and scanned the local paper and the internet for job opportunities.

I've always said my first choice is to come back to the US, but that I wouldn't limit myself to that. My second choice would be to stay here in Thailand. I didn't really think I'd get asked to stay on here at TASC because the work that I've been doing isn't really the kind of work that they, and I, expected to be doing. I thought I'd come here and do some research and data analysis, maybe publish a paper or two or three. The first six months I was here I did that... minus the publishing, but I was very much involved in statistics. But since them I've basically become the tech guy. I'm not responsible for maintaining the office network or anything, but I do alot of data management. This program I wrote for Bangladesh is part of that. I figured that once I got the program finished and installed that they would be happy to send me on my way and bring in someone more scholarly, but I was curious about how they planned on supporting the stuff I've installed for them after I was gone.

About two weeks ago I was approached by Ross (the guy that is the chief adminstrator of the organization) asking me if I would consider extending for at least 6 months, probably longer. They'd "give me more money and a trip back home in December." I had previously told him that I wanted to be home for Christmas. He wanted me to tell him how much money I wanted to stay.

So I thought about, continued to research on the internet for what I could expect to get if I move back home (not as much as I had hoped, to be honest), and came up with a number. I'm now pretty much working for peanuts, although 50% more peanuts than I originally got :) But to stay here longer I wanted a real salary. I settled on a minimum amount. Its less than what I would want in the US, but it's all net... not taxes, so it balances out. I then decided to tack on a few more thousand dollars as a starting bargaining position. I felt pretty sure it would be a no-go because, even though it's not much compared to what Ross and Mike are pulling down, it's still alot more than what I'm making now, and I doubt TASC has much money to pay another full salary.

As we are walking to lunch today, Ross brings it up again. Mike is pressuring him to find out what I want to stay. Ross brings up a "starting point" of double my current salary, exclusive of rent. I am suprised, because that is much more than I thought they would offer. In fact, it's exactly my minimum amount that I had decided on. I told him my starting offer... he thought that was too high, but we negotiated down to double my current salary, inclusive of rent... which is actually closer to my staring position than my minimum one. It's the first time I have actually negotiated salary like that and had it come out in my favor.

So, anyway, Ross is on board and knows what I want, now he just has to present it to Pete and Vi, who hold the purse strings. They may or may not bite. I expect they will, though... they like me and don't get hung up on dollars too much.

All this is to say that, if it comes through as Ross and I have talked about, I will be staying on here for another 6 months at least, probably a year or more. I won't be a fellow anymore but an actual employee. I will, for the first time in years, have a real income... tax free. I will be able to make a good dent in my student loans, maybe even pay them all off (if I'm here for two years). I'll have about two weeks around Christmas in the US, and then come back to work.

I miss everyone in the US, and I do not make this decision lightly. If I was debt free, I don't think I'd even consider staying over here. But it will be much easier for me to reduce or eliminate my debt living over here than in the US. I'd pretty much have to double my salary in the US compared to here to have the same net income, once you consider car payments, insurance, gasoline, taxes, and increased rent and food prices. And this job has been offered... it's a bird in hand, not one in the bush. So, if Pete and Vi agree to the amount, then it's decided.

So that's the good news, and the bad.



pacatrue said...

Hey, it's not too bad for me, because it takes as long to fly to BKK from Hawaii as it does to Louisiana. OK, I don't really know if that is the truth. I know Korea is as close as Chicago though. And you know East Asia is all the same, even if it's 3000 miles south.

The main question, I think, is: do you want to do this? After all, you and I both had positions paying decently well at the old company and we both left them because we didn't want to do that. If you do want to do this job, then yippee all around - except for that whole not coming back to the U.S. thing. If you don't want the job but only the money, then I think it all depends. I say 1) if you really would be just floundering otherwise and aren't quite sure where to move or what to do, then staying there for money makes complete sense. Gives you a nice, but not exciting, job, and let's you work things out. 2) If you really know what you want to do and know how to make steps towards it, then I'd be wary of locking myself in too long there. Make sense? In other words, take the job if you want it, or if you see it as a nice way to spend time until you are ready for that next step, whatever it is. Try not to take it only because it's easy, as Dumbledore would say.

And thanks for the blog entry. I just came on to see if I could muddle through something, and here you are taking care of everything.

Sammy Jankis said...

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Come home, Uncle Tom! Come home!

Well, okay, do what is best for yourself, career and finances. But we do miss you.

kristybox said...

I'm with Sammy.